Virtually every month of the year sees many ARS activities via chapter meetings and the like, but some months are busier than others. The one just ended as this is written in early November was especially active and productive. A one word description characterizing the many events titles this article.
The first weekend in October found us traveling to Olympia, Washington for the Western Regional Conference, sponsored by District 3 this year. The eleventh reprise of an event begun in 1981, it was ably organized and presented by Lori Gangsei, District 3 Director, her husband Steve and their hard working committee. Balmy weather, interesting tours and excellent programs covering a wide spectrum of plant topics were enjoyed by over 300 registrants. The three day program included a plant sale, a raffle, a silent auction for special plants, together with ample opportunity for visiting with friends. Proceeds from the raffle and silent auction became a welcome addition to the ARS treasury.
Less than two weeks later, we left for the East Coast, where we first enjoyed the hospitality of the Rhododendron Society of Canada and that of members from our Great Lakes Chapter, in Jordan, Ontario, Canada. Highlights included the planting of a memorial rhododendron garden honoring the late Al Smith at Brock University in St. Catherines, and an informal meeting reviewing details of the merger between the Rhododendron Society of Canada and the American Rhododendron Society. Several representatives of each organization attended, with Charlie Sale and Austin Kennell leading the discussion for their respective groups. More of this later. The conference also included a number of enjoyable and informative programs.
After the meeting in Canada we spent four days traveling by auto through several states, during which we visited Longwood and Winterthur. Valley Forge Chapter member Francis Raughley greeted us at Winterthur, was the guide on our tram tour of the grounds, and recommended what proved to be a fascinating tour of the DuPont Home/Museum - now a museum only. As many of you know, both Longwood and Winterthur were at one time DuPont estates. They are separated by only a few miles, are quite different, and each is well worth a day to visit anytime you are in that area.
The annual fall Board meeting, held in conjunction with the Northeastern Regional Conference at Tamiment Inn in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, consumed all day Friday, the 25th. A long agenda was considered by the Board, with that of probably most lasting significance being the Board's approval of merging with the Rhododendron Society of Canada. It was my pleasure to sign a written agreement outlining the affiliation together with Sophia Maitland, president of the RSC. The Rhododendron Society of Canada and its three chapters, Atlantic, Niagara and Toronto, become a new district of the American Rhododendron Society and will certainly strengthen both organizations. Herewith a warm welcome to our Canadian friends now joining with us.
The Board was also pleased to acknowledge special contributions to the ARS totaling $8,452 from the following: California Chapter, De Anza Chapter, Lehigh Valley Chapter, Mason Dixon Chapter, Massachusetts Chapter, Middle Atlantic Chapter, Princeton Chapter, Whidbey Island Chapter, and District 3 1991 Western Regional Conference. The funds are indeed welcome in these difficult financial times, and your national officers and directors truly appreciate this generous recognition of our needs. The Board continues to explore other resources beyond simply dues for maintaining services to our membership.
The Board also approved and welcomed three new chapters into the Society. They are the J. D. Hooker Chapter in Sikkim, organized with the help of Clive Justice, the Dutch Chapter resulting from the efforts of Mr. T. Huisman, an ARS member in the Netherlands who worked for many months putting this chapter together, and the Tennessee Valley Chapter, formed by the diligent work of Joseph Schild.
Following the Board meeting we relaxed that evening at a banquet and fine program by Harold Greer titled "The Fantastic World of Rhododendrons". The remainder of the weekend proved equally enjoyable through a series of programs presented by the District 8 organizers of the conference. District Director Fred Winter and his companion workers brought together an outstanding group of speakers appreciated by all the attendees.
One of the many benefits of ARS membership is the opportunity to attend regional conferences and national conventions. Our concentrated participation in three different examples within the same month served to emphasize this benefit. The growing number of joint and regional meetings make them available to most everyone; attendance, I am sure, will strengthen your enthusiasm for the ARS. And you will truly experience a warm welcome.